Staining a deck helps protect the wood from the elements.
An average deck staining job costs between $550–$1,250.
Deck staining prices vary depending on its size and condition.
Some decks require cleaning, stripping, or sanding ahead of time.
Deck staining is a DIY-friendly job.
The cost to professionally stain a deck costs between $550 and $1,250, or around $850 on average. Staining a deck adds a rich, brilliant finish to the wood while protecting it from the elements and preserving its beauty for years to come. Wooden decks require regular deck maintenance and a fresh stain every two to three years to look their best. Whether you plan to hire a pro or DIY, here’s a look at how much it costs to stain a deck.
Deck Staining Cost Factors
Deck staining costs vary upon several factors, including the size of the deck, its condition, and any add-ons like sealing, power washing, and waterproofing.
Size of Deck
An average-sized wood deck of around 250 square feet costs between $250 to $625 to stain, though add-ons increase the price to about $800. This cost includes labor and staining materials.
Generally speaking, deck stain runs between $1 to $2.50 per square foot, so budget according to size. Here is what you’ll spend money on when staining a deck:
|Deck Dimensions||Average Cost|
|10’x10’ (100 square feet)||$100–$250|
|12’x12’ (144 square feet)||$145–$300|
|12’x16’ (192 square feet)||$200–$480|
|12’x20’ (240 square feet)||$240–$600|
|14’x24’ (336 square feet)||$340–$840|
|16’x24’ (384 square feet)||$400–$960|
|24’x24’ (586 square feet)||$600–$1,465|
Cleaning, Prep, and Paint Removal
Decks all have their own quirks, and pre-staining involves removing paint, cleaning away debris, and sanding down misshapen portions of the deck. Pros typically wrap these other projects in with your total cost estimate, but each of these tasks impacts the price:
Power washing: Wood decks require pristine conditions before staining, and that’s where deck power washing (also known as pressure washing) comes in. Most pros wrap up a good cleaning as part of the staining process, so expect to pay $0.50 to $1.50 per square foot for a wash-then-stain combo. If you are doing it yourself, renting a power washer costs around $50 to $65 per day, and purchasing one outright ranges from $100 to $1,500.
Sanding: You’ll likely need to sand your deck before applying the staining solution. If your deck only needs light sanding, you’ll pay $1 to $1.50 per square foot, including staining. If the job requires heavy sanding, you’ll pay $2 to $4 per square foot for sanding and staining.
Paint-stripping: Paint-stripping is a lengthy process, requiring remover products to soak in overnight. In other words, you’ll pay $1.50 to $3 per square foot, which includes staining.
There are many staining products, each with its cost range and preferred use-case scenarios. A qualified pro knows the ins and outs of each of these options, but here is a quick primer for beginners.
Note: The prices below list per gallon costs. One gallon of staining solution covers 150 to 300 square feet, depending on the wood's age, condition, and porosity.
Water-based deck stain: This is your average deck staining solution, costing around $20 to $90 per gallon. These semi-transparent stains are environmentally friendly, meaning they are water-based and produce less VOCs after they cure. These solutions are also mold- and mildew-resistant. Some water-based stains don’t penetrate the wood deeply, so read the fine print before purchasing.
Oil-based deck stain: Oil-based stains deeply penetrate wood, but you’ll pay $35 to $120 per gallon for the privilege. These stains do a fine job at resisting mold.
Solid deck stain: If you are stuck deciding between staining a deck or painting a deck, a solid deck stain provides the best of both worlds. These solutions cost $25 to $70 per gallon, with availability in both water and oil-based formulas.
Clear deck stain: If you want the natural beauty of your wood planks to shine through post-stain, go with a clear or transparent solution. These formulas cost $20 to $60 per gallon, with availability in both water and oil-based options.
Most local deck staining contractors charge around $40 to $70 per hour, so labor costs vary by how long the job takes. For example, a deck that measures 250 square feet requires about 10 hours of labor, but this metric increases with more intensive work. For instance, sanding alone takes five to 10 hours, and paint and finish-stripping take up to 20 hours.
Additional Cost Factors
Here are some additional factors worth considering that impact your overall cost when staining a deck.
Restaining saves money for some homeowners over the lifespan of your deck. If you are keeping up to date on your deck stainings every two to three years, you’ll pay less when re-staining a deck because the process is simpler, as pros won’t sand or strip the deck before starting. You’ll pay between $0.50 and $1 per square foot for a simple re-staining.
Deck staining and sealing go together like peanut butter and jelly. Some pros wrap sealing into the overall project cost, but others charge separately for a seal job. Sealing your deck costs $550 to $1,300, though it is essential to help protect the wood from the elements. Sealing your deck as part of a staining job typically raises your price range to around $800 to $1,700.
Stairs and Railings
Some decks have railings, which also benefit from a good stain. Staining deck railings costs between $4 to $12.50 per linear foot. Depending on your contractor's recommendations, this price includes power washing or sanding. As for stairs, account for the surface area, both tread and riser, when totaling up your deck's square footage.
Cost To Stain Your Deck Yourself
You’ll pay between $20 to $250 for the staining solution if you do it yourself, saving on labor costs. You’ll also pay for any necessary equipment rentals, including pressure washers and sanders, which can quickly outweigh the cost of hiring a pro for this task.
DIY vs. Hiring a Pro
Staining a deck is not a difficult job, per se, but it is time-consuming and any DIY mishaps can alter the aesthetic of your deck. On the other hand, hiring a local deck staining contractor ensures a smooth job and decreases the chances of accidental damage with a pressure washer or sanding belt.
How To Maintain Your Deck Stain
To maintain the brilliant color of your deck stain, always follow up with a clear sealant after the stain dries. This will protect the wood from UV and moisture damage while adding an additional protective layer against pests.
But how often should you stain your deck? Repeat the process at least once every two to three years to keep your deck looking beautiful. In between staining sessions, keep up with regular deck maintenance like sweeping debris and snow removal to keep it in working condition.
Lawrence Bonk contributed to this piece.
Frequently Asked Questions
A five-gallon bucket of deck stain will cover roughly 875 square feet in a single coat. Actual coverage will vary based on the type of wood you’re staining and the number of coats. If you plan on doing multiple coats, multiply the square footage by the number of coats to calculate how many buckets of stain you’ll need.
Before hiring someone to sand, seal, and stain your deck, check out the company’s official website and look them up on the Better Business Bureau portal and any related trade forums.
After that, give them a call to discuss the job, taking care to specifically mention the size of your deck, its condition, and any related concerns. A contractor worth their weight in staining solution should be able to answer any and all questions with ease. You should also reach out to any references they provide and inquire about their project satisfaction.
To cut back on project expenses, complete any and all deck-related projects or staining-related projects at the same time. Updates may include painting, refinishing, adding railings or deck stairs, and more. Related projects include staining a pergola or any other wooden structures throughout your property.
Weather impacts the time to stain a deck because the staining solution won’t adhere to damp wood and may cause it to crack and peel over time. Apply staining formula to dry wood when it hasn’t rained in several days and check the weather forecast to ensure you’ll have two more dry days at temperatures between 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Low and average humidity promotes faster and more efficient drying. However, staining in direct sunlight comes with its own challenges, as extreme heat can dry the staining solution before the wood absorbs it.